MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is in Washington seeking more aid to help North Minneapolis tornado victims.
Interviewed on The WCCO Morning News with Dave Lee, Rybak said he was meeting with representatives from several federal agencies to look at a coordinated way in which the city can follow through with its response to the May 22 disaster.
“We’re already using a lot of federal funds in North Minneapolis, especially housing vouchers and other things to get people housing. Frankly, we need more because of the complicated situation. We also need to get into issues beyond that,” he said.
WCCO’s Dave Lee Interviews Mayor R.T. Rybak
The mayor said his plans for Monday include a meeting on Capitol Hill with Minnesota senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Congressman Keith Ellison’s staff. Later Monday afternoon, Rybak will return to the White House for a meeting with President Obama and several other mayors.
“I previously been invited with 10 mayors to meet with the president. He’s the president, we’ll talk about whatever he wants to, but if I get a chance I’m going to raise the tornado,” he said. “It’s not a tornado meeting, but it’s certainly on my mind.”
Last week, FEMA announced it would not be providing any individual assistance to the people who live there.
“FEMA aid to individuals is only one way to get help to people and there’s a very high bar that’s very difficult to get. But we will be pursuing ways to help homeowners who are having trouble, small businesses that may need loans, and mental health issues for young kids that have gone through trauma,” Rybak said.
The mayor said he’s realistic about his appeal to the president.
“Don’t expect me to walk out of the White House with a check,” he said.
Rybak hopes a series of ongoing communications with various departments will help the city obtain more funding for small businesses displaced by the twister and money for demolition for properties that can’t be restored. He said he also hopes to get assistance for some of the unique situations in neighborhoods where 50 percent of the people are uninsured renters.
“This was a bad tornado and it couldn’t have really picked too many neighborhoods that had higher needs than this,” he said.
As for the threat of a state government shutdown on July 1, Rybak said he is expected to deliver a budget on Aug. 15, but it’s a little complicated when he doesn’t know what’s coming from the state.
“I think a lot about my brother-in-law who does computer programming for the state. As a mayor, it has a huge impact on thousands of stories like that with my brother-in-law. I’m frustrated and I would like them to get a solution,” he said.
Rybak also attended the 79th annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors in Baltimore this weekend. The conference advises mayors from across the country on ways to deal with cuts in government aid, how to create jobs and how to promote sustainable development.